Debit/credit card fare payment updates from STL and OC Transpo

June 20, 2023
The Société de transport de Laval becomes the first Quebec transit agency to accept debit card payments for fare, while OC Transpo begins testing new fare gates that will support credit card fare payments.

Two transit providers in Canada are moving forward with plans that will make paying transit fares more seamless with the use of credit and debit cards.

The bus riders on Société de transport de Laval (STL) system in Montreal are the first transit users in Quebec to be able to pay for their bus fare with Interac® Debit cards. Riders can tap their debit card, phone or wearable device to gain access to the system and can use the same card or device to take advantage of a free transfer within 120 minutes of the initial tap.

"As our goal is to constantly improve our customer experience and further democratize access to our services, we believe this new payment option will be a good response to one of the deterrents of using public transit, i.e., buying a fare. Now more than ever, considering the current climate change, we must make every effort to encourage Laval residents to add public transit into their commuting mix," said Chair of the STL Board of Directors Jocelyne Frédéric-Gauthier.

The roll out of debit card fare payment on STL’s buses is the final step of an initiative that began in 2017. A second phase of the initiative to equip all STL buses with a new generation of payment terminals began in 2020 with funding from the Autorité régionale du transport métropolitain (ARTM). The new terminals make it possible to pay with credit and debit card, digital wallets and smartwatches.

"The ARTM is excited to be the driving force behind the implementation of new payment methods that make it easier for riders to get on board. This is a tremendous step forward for public transit services in the metropolitan region. We are firmly committed to modernizing the relationship between riders and public transit services to make sustainable mobility more attractive. Over the next few years, transit users will be gradually seeing new features and functions. Congratulations to the entire STL team,” said ARTM Executive Director, Information Technologies Sylvain Perras.

STL said in April 2022 that credit card fare payments would be accepted on all buses and, in a separate project, began accepting credit and debit card fare payments on all paratransit vehicles through a partnership with COOP Taxi Lavel and Chartrand Inc.

"After several years of research, testing, successes and lessons learned, we're especially proud of completing this huge and somewhat crazy innovation project, which started six years ago and has caused a few headaches for the work teams. It's somewhat crazy but extremely handy to our riders: The popularity of contactless payment is undeniable and growing steadily since its very beginnings. STL riders had been asking for debit payment for a long time,” said STL General Manager Josée Roy. “Now, it's another argument for choosing public transit and it's a simple and quick option for going out at the last minute. Crucial funding from the ARTM, which agreed to embark on this adventure with us, bears mentioning as it allowed this major metropolitan technological showcase project to continue and deepen."

OC Transpo

In related news, OC Transpo, which serves Ottawa and Gatineau, Ontario, began testing credit card and mobile wallet payments on fare gates at O-Train Line 1 stations on June 19. This testing is part of the planned roll out of the O-Payment system.

OC Transpo says testing of the system on buses will begin shortly. Testing of the system will continue until it is ready to launch across the entire transit system.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.